One of the challenges I’ve always experienced when editing my product images, is removing the background. Depending on the technique you use to remove the main image from the background, sometimes it can end up looking like the dog had chewed around the edges of it. Then add to this the challenges of photographing fabric projects because of all the threads and embellishments.

One day recently while I was browsing the web I found the solution for removing backgrounds that produced a very smooth-edged result! And of course I can’t link to the tutorial because I don’t know where I found it, but this is how it’s done and it’s SO easy.

Please Note: This tutorial is presented using Photoshop Elements 9, however the instruction should be similar in other versions of Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.

This is a photo I took using a black background. Once I had taken the photo I realized that there was all sorts of dust and flecks on the background that weren’t visible to my naked eye so it was necessary to remove the background.

Exploring Photoshop: Removing backgrounds the easy way

You can see close up that the background is well, rather dreadful.

Exploring Photoshop: Removing backgrounds the easy way

So here’s how to remove it. Select your favorite “selection” tool, either the magnetic lasso or the quick selection tool.

Exploring Photoshop: Removing backgrounds the easy way

Zoom in real close to the image so you can see what you’re doing and select the outline of the image. You want to get the selection as good as possible. I’m using the quick selection tool for this. In the photo you can just make out the little marching ants around the outline.

Exploring Photoshop: Removing backgrounds the easy way

Once you’ve selected the outline, go to the file menu and choose Select, Modify, then either Expand or Contract depending on which is the best way for you to cut out the image. For this outline I’m using Contract because I want to remove some of that fuzzy outline and cut in closer to the image.

Exploring Photoshop: Removing backgrounds the easy way

Choose the number of pixels you want to contract by; you usually don’t need too much. I’ve chosen 2.

Exploring Photoshop: Removing backgrounds the easy way

Next go to Select, Feather

Exploring Photoshop: Removing backgrounds the easy way

… and select the amount of feather to smooth out the edges. I’ve chosen 3.

Exploring Photoshop: Removing backgrounds the easy way

Then go to Edit, Copy. Then Edit, Paste. Or Ctrl C then Ctrl V on your keyboard.

Exploring Photoshop: Removing backgrounds the easy way

This now puts a copy of your cutout image in a new layer on top of your original.

Exploring Photoshop: Removing backgrounds the easy way

If you hide the original image, you can easily see that the edges have been feathered and softened.

Exploring Photoshop: Removing backgrounds the easy way

And when you place this on a new background – it looks FABULOUS!

Exploring Photoshop: Removing backgrounds the easy way

I love learning new things, especially when they work out so well!